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CESSE Ocean Tech

Ocean science innovation is making waves in Canada.

Canada’s ocean science and ocean technology sector fuels innovation and economies. With global corporations operating in all major sectors of the ocean economy, ocean tech companies selling to the world, and some of the world’s best ocean research taking place here.

The OECD estimates that the value of the world’s ocean economy, or blue economy, will reach $3000bn by 2030. 

“Anchored by investment in maritime and coastal tourism, resource exploration, shipbuilding and port activities, this blue economy will also be built through innovative ocean data analytics, ecosystem-based fisheries management, aquaculture and ocean renewable-energy systems,” Dr Kate Moran, CEO of Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), wrote in 2016.

Building a smarter ocean creates sustainable ecosystems, and Canada is demonstrating leadership in ocean observation, bringing government, industry, conservation and recreational interests together for informed policy decisions about its coastal resources.


zephyr on the water


Neptune and Venus underwater ocean observatories

Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) developed the Neptune and Venus projects, the first regional underwater ocean observatories to connect directly to the internet and whose data is available for analysis and to inform policymakers about anything concerning coastal communities and the health of their ecosystems. ONC has also pioneered an earthquake early-warning system, and recently received funding for the testing of a carbon-negative technology designed to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and inject it into deep-sea basalt. 

The technologies developed by ONC generate business opportunities for the company and its partners. Jasco Applied Sciences collaborated with ONC on a product development for its advanced sound-monitoring systems, which records and assesses the sound generated by shipping lines and its impact on ocean ecosystems in order to achieve more sustainable shipping management. Meanwhile, clean energy company Carbon Engineering, is one of the technical partners for ONC’s carbon negative project, which, if successful, could be very lucrative.


ocean research

Studying the deep ocean 

With the most coast line of any nation, Canada has a vested interest in studying the ocean. On the country’s east coast, in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, is the Ocean Sciences Centre at Memorial University (MUN), one of Canada’s biggest marine laboratories and a global leader in cold ocean bioscience. Kendra MacDonald, chief executive officer at Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC), notes: “In the Atlantic region, ocean innovation is part of the fabric of who we are, because of our geography, harsh ocean environment, and our history of making a living from ocean industries.” OSC is an initiative that brings together industry, government and academia, and is co-investing up to $300m in new tech platforms used across ocean sciences. “Our start-up ecosystem offers incredible support for entrepreneurs in the form of incubators and accelerators, as well as complementary programmes including ocean focused initiatives and mentorship,” adds Ms MacDonald.

Oceans start-ups

The Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship, (COVE) is one of several eastern Canadian institutes dedicated to innovation in the ocean sciences and a hub for a number of successful new ocean start-ups. Halifax’s Dalhousie University is host to Ocean Tracking Network (OTN); IBM’s DeepSense platform, which uses data-driven insights to leverage new ocean technologies; and Aquatron Laboratory, the largest aquatic research facility in eastern Canada. The Ocean Frontier Institute – which brings together international researchers and teams from MUN, the University of Prince Edward Island and Dalhousie University – is also located there. “Dalhousie University and MUN both have extremely strong ocean science research programmes,” says Frederick Whoriskey, executive director of OTN.

Such depth of knowledge and entrepreneurial appetite are just two reasons why international organizations choose to collaborate and host international business events dedicated to ocean sciences here. Case in point: the Marine Technology Society (MTS) is hosting OCEANS 2024 Conference, one of the largest global conferences for professionals in the oceans sector in Halifax. 

“Gaining access to local thought leaders and industry innovators is a key benefit of hosting ocean science conferences in Canada,” says Virginie De Visscher, senior director of business development, economic sectors, for Destination Canada’s Business Events team, the organization tasked with attracting global business events to Canada. Indeed, it was just such access that also helped attract the World Aquaculture Society Conference to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, in 2020 for an event that is anticipated to draw 2,000 guests from over 100 countries.


downtown St. Johns


St. John’s is also the site of Destination Canada’s signature business attraction event: Innovate Canada, which in 2020 will showcase Canada’s strengths in ocean sciences to c-suite members whose organizations can meet in Canada, or are mature for trade and/or investment. The by-invitation-only event takes place August 31 - September 3, 2020 and will include one-on-one meetings with Canada’s leading centres in ocean sciences, participation in the World Aquaculture Society Conference and curated social events.   

“The wealth of intellectual capital found in Canada’s ocean science community is as vast as our coastline,” says De Visscher, who is only too happy to help conference organizers navigate their way through the various destinations and the benefits they offer global conferences. 


For more about Canada’s leadership in ocean tech, or to learn how to qualify to attend Innovate Canada 2020, email Destination Canada Business Events.